The ORU volleyball team pulled out a comeback five set victory over South Dakota, who came into the match 7-1 in Summit League play and second in league standings.
“This was a really good game to win because we know they are a really good team,” ORU junior Jovana Poljasevic said. “We know that from this point on, we can win every single game because we won this game.”
ORU was down two sets to one going into the fourth set. South Dakota jumped out to a 6-0 lead and it looked like ORU wouldn’t have a chance.
The Golden Eagles fought back after a timeout to cut the gap to 10-9. The teams traded points until an 8-2 run by ORU tied the fourth set at 16 and took the lead at 21-18.
“[In the fourth set], Sara [Pope] made the first kill and I think that got our momentum back and showed we’re still in the game and can still play,” ORU Head Coach Sheera Sirola said. “We got back in the game and from that point on I think they felt they can do this and got in a fifth gear and played like they should.”
South Dakota kept it close, but a 3-1 ORU run finished off the set at 25-22.
An 8-3 run gave the Golden Eagles control of the fifth set and a Pope kill won the set, 15-12, and the match, 3-2.
“It’s huge,” Sirola said. “That’s a boost for the kids. I think they feel like they can do it now and I think from this point on, they got over the hump and I think we are on the right path.”
Sara Pope hit .606 in the match with 22 kills and only two errors. The senior hit 17 of her kills in the final three sets.
Laura Milos led the team with 28 kills and had 17 digs for her seventh double-double of the year. Poljasevic led the team with seven blocks, two of them solo blocks.
“I’m really happy because in the first half of the season I had a tough time blocking,” Poljasevic said. “In games I didn’t play or didn’t start it was because of blocking. I work really hard at that and I was happy to make my coaches proud. In the fifth set, seeing my coach jump from the seat just because I blocked is unbelievable.”
ORU’s record in five set matches improved to 4-2 this season. The Golden Eagles are now 11-11 overall and 5-4 in Summit League action.
The win keeps them three games back of league leader Denver and enters them in the conversation for league champion.
“Every win is a great win, whether it’s pretty or not,” Pope said. “I think we have a really good team and a really good chance to win the conference. Every game is going to matter.”
The Golden Eagles will have a quick turnaround as they head on the road to face IUPUI on Sunday at noon. Their next home game will be next Friday, Oct. 31, at 7:00 p.m.